My story may sound familiar. I started off like so many others. I had been a big guy my whole life. On the day my fitness journey started, I was 23 years old, and honestly, couldn’t remember a time where I wasn’t big. Heck, the smallest pair of jeans I owned were 36″ waist—which didn’t fit, and hadn’t since 8th grade. But that was my reality, and I had come to accept it. Or rather, I was resigned to my fate.
Efforts to succeed… didn’t.
Throughout my adult life I tried and failed a number of times to lose weight. Nothing really stuck. There were so many factors I could attribute to my lack of progress. There was little health and fitness knowledge and direction, for one, which was an unstable foundation to build my hopes on. Then there was my general laziness and constant procrastination from going after what I really wanted! And of course, there was the ever-pervasive sense of discomfort, inadequacy, and embarrassment I felt when I set foot in a gym, which led to my general lack of motivation to actually do it.
Motivation is a funny thing, though.
I learned, one day, that motivation is not the same thing as needing to do a thing or wanting to do a thing. Motivation is not “I want to lose weight.” It’s what drives that feeling and your actual action. Motivation is different for everyone. For me, it was a deep, powerful inability to remain as I was for another moment. One day—at work—I wore through the inner thigh of yet another pair of pants due to my thighs rubbing as I walked, and something snapped. I simply could no longer be like this anymore—overweight, unhappy in my own skin, uncomfortable, and embarrassed with myself. I had to do something.
And so it began.
My wife (my girlfriend at the time) and I began working out together. We started at home, in the basement or spare bedroom, with one of those at-home workout DVDs I borrowed from a friend. At the time, I was too embarrassed, intimidated, and overwhelmed to go to an actual gym. So, we did it on our own. We had each other, and we made it work, but I look back now and realize how we made it pretty hard on ourselves. Why didn’t we ask for help? A year later, I found myself 130 lbs. lighter, significantly more confident and comfortable in my body, and I had even become a runner! So the work was definitely worth it. But I learned a lot along the way.
What did we do? What can YOU do?
We did strength training workouts, high-intensity interval training workouts, we ran, and we even did yoga. A balance of ALL these things kept things interesting and helped support our success. We used dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and even bodyweight to power our workouts.
It wasn’t just workouts though. The other key component was nutrition. We completely changed not just what we ate, but how we thought about food. Food became a fuel source, not a way to pass time or deal with emotions. We cut out things like soda, weaned ourselves off some not-so-great choices, and focused on healthy, whole foods. We didn’t do a crash-course 30, 60, or 90-day challenge, or fad diet. We made small, progressive, lifestyle changes. And ultimately, that’s why we succeeded and why the weight has stayed off over lots more time.
Life is very different today than it was Day 1.
As a result of my transformation, I found a new passion for fitness. I became a runner, and used it as an outlet to push myself, to see just how far I could go. I’ve completed not just marathons, but ultramarathons. I’ve even completed a 100-mile endurance run (yes, all in one shot—29 hours)! I also discovered a newfound passion for helping others navigate their own health and fitness journey. Having been there myself, I knew how hard it could be. I think back to my own fitness journey, and wish it didn’t have to be so hard. All the work, the research, the trial and error, the struggles—it was a lot. And I’ve realized it didn’t have to be that hard. Not if we had reached out to more experienced people along the way. So now, I share my story, and even work as a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness, to do just that. People often feel (or are) alone, but don’t need to be! If I can help ease the journey and answer a few questions for even one person, I know I’ve made my day and theirs.
You have to believe.
There are going to be days it feels like “too much,” “too hard,” or altogether like an insurmountable challenge. In those moments, know that you can do it. I’ve come out the other side successful and can tell you, you can win. Lean on your friends, your family, and a coach to see you through to victory. You’ll get there—in time, with work, and belief.